For The Freaks: Should You Care What People Think About Your Business?

Sheep!

You know how everyone’s always telling you that you’ve got to polarize your audience? (FYI for those who are new to online business: Everyone’s going to tell you that you’ve got to polarize your audience.)

The basic principle behind this mandate is that, through effective polarization, your fans become Capital F SUPERFANS and your foes are… well, who cares about those losers they probably live in their mother’s basement I hope they rot in a gutter BOO!!!!

(That’s not what people say. Well, not most of them, anyway. But it’s what they mean.)

The idea is that if you are True To You And Your Truthiest Truth (TM), your bestest, BFF besties will be drawn to you like moths to a flame and you can just be yourself for a living, forever and ever. It doesn’t always work out that way, but that’s the idea.

One of the blogs I read religiously is Mystic Medusa.

She’s an astrologer, and it seems she was born with the intuitive understanding of the difference between polarity and completely unnecessary offensiveness. (Alternatively, she might be offensive to everyone on earth but me. But she has 60,000 Facebook fans, which says at least a few people feel like I do.)

Mystic changes the names of astrological signs, and blogs several times a day, and has a dictionary that does not resemble yours or mine. (The most notable and frequent of her words is fuq, which means exactly what you think it means.)

Anyway, astrology is kooky work, and she attracts people who are similarly in lines of kooky work, and she got an email question that I will share here since you may also be in a line of kooky work.

Hey MM!

I am curious to know what you do when you bump into everyday Muggles who ask what your profession is. Do you say ‘Astrologer’ or give another stock answer that doesn’t invite controversy and makes your life easier for you? If you DO say ‘astrologer’, what’s your stock response if they roll their eyes and say something rude and judgmental about ” that ‘astronomy stuff’ is all made-up baloney?”

The reason I ask is because I’ve worked as a psychic / intuitive counsellor for 10 years and I still COMPLETELY STRUGGLE to admit my occupation, even when filling out a simple clipboard form, let alone when faced with The Inquisition at a dinner party. I know I need to own what I do, accept myself and fuq what people think, but any tips from yourself — someone who’s been out there bravely living her truth decades longer than me — would really be appreciated.

x Cuddly Cancerian

(“Muggles” refers to the Harry Potter book series. According to the good folks at Wikipedia, “a muggle is a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and was not born into the magical world. [They] are often portrayed as foolish, sometimes befuddled characters who are completely ignorant of the Wizarding world that exists in their midst.”)

I loved Mystic’s answer, which you should go read if you’re into that kind of thing, but there’s one particular comment on the post that led me to write this here article today. I shall quote it here:

“I think it’s totally OK to be authentic about your occupation, without being attached to other people’s opinion of the profession. Who cares what Muggles think?”

She goes on to be very cool and compassionate, so I’m not ragging on the comment, but the point she raises is one that needs attention.

Who cares what Muggles think?

I went to 13 schools growing up. I skipped three grades. I had a funny accent.

I was a little chubby. I didn’t grow breasts until long past the allowable window. I had hairy legs by age eight and was not allowed to shave them.

My father had strong opinions on what was fashionable and ladylike, and those opinions did not match up with the opinions of my peers. (Wikipedia defines pedal pushers as “calf-length trousers that were popular during the 1950s and the early 1960s.” This was 1992.)

On weekends, I worked at my family’s farmer’s market stall, hand-selling ethnic food, carney barker style. (“Mustard! Mustard and coleslaw! Get your condiments right here!”)

One September, I wore eyeshadow to the back-to-school dance and when I got caught, I was terrified, and I lied about it. My punishment, to remind me that I was still a little girl, was that I had to wear pigtails every day for the remainder of seventh grade.

I was a FREAK.

“Who cares what they think?” is something we say to freaks a lot.

“Who cares?” is a funny expression.

It has a couple of meanings and they oppose each other.

On one hand, “Who cares?” is as show of support. It’s a “Don’t worry, we support you”. It’s a bit of a shoulder slap, a “don’t let the bastards grind you down”, a thumbs up. The speaker wants you to know they’re on your team.

On the other hand, it’s laced with subtextual judgment. It says that smart people don’t care. It says “people like me don’t care”. It says you shouldn’t care – and you really should know that by now.

It’s what people who aren’t in pain say to those who are, especially when the pain is the awkward kind that makes everybody uncomfortable. Or it’s what they say when they’re in pain, too, but if they acknowledge your pain, they’ll have to acknowledge their own, and that simply won’t do. “Who cares what they think? Pass the potato salad!”

But should you care?

I see some pretty freaky people in my line of work. My business is about the least freaky thing I’ve ever done, ironically enough, but I work with a lot of freaks. And freaks, in my experience, tend toward the Sensitive Soul end of the human spectrum.

The commentor on Mystic’s post said “I think it’s totally OK to be authentic about your occupation, without being attached to other people’s opinion of the profession.” She raises a good point. The Buddhists believe that attachment is the source of pain, and I think they’re on to something. Being attached to acceptance or positive opinions is probably going to bring you a world of hurt.

But I’m not sure that caring is attachment, and I’m also not sure our Cuddly Cancerian was dealing with an attachment issue anyway. If she’s like most of the people I teach, I would say she’s not seeking acceptance. I would say she’s not attached to their high opinion of her. I would say she’s not caring, she’s hurting.

I would say she wilts when she’s around mean, negative, judgmental energy. I would say she’s an intuitive counselor, and that requires a high level of attunement and sensitivity. I would say her high attunement and sensitivity makes being around eye-rollers and judgers and Inquisitors a form of passive torture. I would say she probably finds the negativity suffocating.

To sensitive people, being hit psychically is the same as being hit physically.

To say “Who cares?” about a punch to the psyche makes about as much sense as saying “Who cares?” about a punch to the kidney. It’s not about caring. It’s about hurting.

And “sensitive people” is not a euphemism for “hippies and psychics and people who know what HSP stands for”. Even tough guys are sensitive to certain things and certain people.

Nobody’s ever going to call my handsome, bad boy colleague up there a Cuddly Cancerian, but when his then-wife rolled her eyes when he got his first big client? Yeah, I’d say he was a little sensitive to that.

But if we listen to the Don’t Care Brigade, he shouldn’t have cared. Who cares what she thinks? Right? RIGHT?

I hope not. I don’t want to live in a world where husbands aren’t supposed to care what their wives think.

See, when most people say “care” in this context, it’s a colloquialism. “Care” means “hurt”. When they say you shouldn’t care, they tend to mean you shouldn’t hurt.

So should you care?

I’m not sure the question even makes sense. Not the way it’s asked, anyway.

If “care” means “be attached to”, well, sure. You might want to work on avoiding being attached to any more than absolutely necessary. If I’m attached to what you think of this article, I’m opening up that world of hurt, and there’s not really a lot of value in that.

But if “care” means “be affected by”, I’m not sure should comes into it. Should you be affected when you’re kicked in the kidney? Should you be affected when your foot gets run over by a milk truck? Should you be affected by suffocating negativity?

It really doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you are affected.

And if there’s anything you might want to teensy weensy try to not care about, it’s all those people telling you that you shouldn’t care.

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.